Packing Slip: Guide to Understanding Packing Slips

You can buy just about anything on the internet. The retail market is becoming increasingly digitized, which means that you need a way to keep track of orders. While some companies no longer use a packing slip, they’re still heavily useful in the world of eCommerce . 

However, if you’ve ever wondered, “What is a packing slip?” this article will give you a deeper understanding. 

What is a Packing Slip?

A packing slip is a record of the important information that relates to an online purchase. Additionally, packing slips are a crucial part of any shipment; they ensure package delivery to the right address and in the right way. 

Things that may on a slip can include:

  • SKU numbers
  • Weight of the package 
  • Dimensions of the package 
  • The number of units that will ship 
  • A PO number 

Even though a packing slip is essentially a comprehensive list of items that go inside a package, you may wonder whether you actually need one. 

Are Packing Slips Required?

The short answer to that question is that packing slips are sometimes necessary. In addition, a packing slip is only necessary when the shipped package contains purchased items. 

If you’re sending a package to a family member or friend, you most likely don’t need to include a packing slip. However, if you purchase an item from a small online shop, the seller needs to include one by law. 

What is the Difference Between a Packing Slip and an Invoice?

An invoice comes after the seller processes a purchase order. 

An invoice is a document recording the non-negotiable terms of the purchase. What this means is that the seller has agreed to sell the item to the buyer, but is not willing to change or negotiate any of the terms.

While the purchase order is the buyer’s responsibility, the seller always issues an invoice. Invoices include the following: 

  • Identification for both the buyer and seller
  • Reference to the purchase order 
  • Description of the item(s) sold
  • List of how many items sold
  • Date of the shipment 
  • Price of the item(s)
  • Any available discounts that will be applied
  • Payment terms 
  • Delivery times 

Even though much of the included information on an invoice is similar to that of a purchase order, there are a few key differences. Not all businesses are going to use packing slips, but almost all of them use invoices.

Furthermore, a service-based business is not going to use a packing slip because they only sell services. Remember:  These slips are only necessary if there is an item in the process of shipping after purchasing. 

Another key difference is who receives a shipment; Sellers will send an invoice to the party responsible for payment, while the slip will be sent to the party receiving the goods. 

What is the Difference Between a Packing Slip and a Purchase Order?

You may wonder about the differences between packing slips and purchase orders. 

A purchase order is the first document that records the transaction between the buyer and seller; these slips contain similar information, but it is included in the package itself. Moreover, purchase orders are also more commonly used in business-to-business transactions.

Furthermore, when one business buys stock from another, they will create a purchase order that includes the number of items bought and any specific requirements they might have. The packing slip is sent with the goods once the package ships. 

Why is a Packing Slip Important for eCommerce Businesses?

Packing slips are important for eCommerce businesses, and there are a few reasons why. 

1. They Ensure that Everything is in the Shipment

Packing slips are also a record of the items that were purchased. Without this, there is no way for the buyer to double-check that they received everything they paid for. 

2. Track All of the Items in the Order Easily

If the shipment is large enough, it may need to be split into multiple packages. If this happens, the packing slip helps the buyer to keep track of what they already received and what they are still waiting on. 

3. Identify Damaged Items

When an item comes damaged, the packing slip helps the buyer to identify which item it is. Additionally, packing slips also help the buyer to speed up the process of getting a refund or sending the package back.

4. Confirm that All Items Were Received

Without a list of what you bought, how can you make sure you received everything? The packing slip helps the buyer to confirm that everything was received and identifies missing items. 

5. Allows Customs to Estimate the Value of a Shipment

When a company is shipping products internationally, a packing slip can be used by customs to estimate the value of the shipment. 

What Should a Packing Slip Include?

Ultimately, there a few things that a packing slip generally includes. Things like a shipping address, a PO number, and SKU numbers are all included on these slips. 

1. Shipping Address, Order Date, and Contact Info

This information is necessary for filing purposes, so the seller can keep track of the purchase information. In case there are problems with the shipment in transit, the seller can contact the buyer.

2. Itemized List of the Shipped Items

Including a list of the items gives the buyer a way to double-check that all of the items they purchased were received. 

3. Itemized List of Out-of-Stock Items

If an order for an item has yet to be shipped, the packing slip will make note of that. However, this information is generally communicated before submission or fulfilling the process of the purchase. 

4. Quantity of Each Item

Continuing on, the quantity of each item is the column on the packing slip makes it easy to see quantities for each item purchased.

5. SKU or UPC of Each Item

This is more important for the seller than the buyer. The seller uses this number to identify and track their inventory. 

6. Slip Number or PO Number

The slip number is cross-referenced with the PO number to ensure that the right order was sent and received. 

Packing Slip Template

A packing slip template is an efficient way to create packing slips. If you need a packing slip template, there are a few places you can look:

These sites provide just about any type of packing slip template you may need to make the process easier.


Packing slips are important for any eCommerce business. Moreover, when you’re running a business, it is helpful to know each document is necessary and what roles they will play. 

Looking for a team of experts for your packaging needs? Get in contact Contact with a Print Bind Ship expert for a 15-minute consultation! 

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